Every athlete wants that competitive edge – something to make them stand out from all the rest. It’s no wonder caffeine is the most common stimulant on the planet, with an estimated 90 percent of Americans consuming it every single day. Creatine happens to be the most researched sports supplement around, with countless studies confirming how effective it is as a way to improve power output and increase muscle size.
Every supplement store around is bursting with creatine supplements and caffeine-containing pre workout powders and pills. You may think: how about I combine the two to get the most out of my workout? However, it is believed that caffeine makes creatine useless when consumed together. It is largely a myth.
Why is Caffeine Bad for Creatine?
It all comes down to one study published in The Journal of Applied Physiology back in 1996. There were nine male volunteers in the study who consumed 1/2 gram of creatine/kilogram of bodyweight. They did this for a total of six days. This works out to at least 40 grams a day, and most people recommend having five to 10. However, this may be considered “loading” creatine which saturates the muscles more rapidly. This practice is actually pretty common.
The participants performed the study with a knee extension device with high reps (50, 80 and 90), taking two minutes between the whole series. The study revealed their dynamic torque production increased by 10 to 23 percent with the consumption of just taken creatine. It did not increase at all when it was combined with caffeine. That’s it: that’s the one study on the books.
The Jury is Still Out
You shouldn’t worry about these results. It should be a systematic review or meta analysis, and anything other than that isn’t worrisome, according to Ben Olliver, a Sports Nutritionist and Trevor Kashey Nutrition consultant, based in the UK. He says people will believe anything they read if it’s published in a study. Truth is, there’s a lot more to it all.
The creatine and caffeine conundrum has been based on this one overhyped study concluding the two should not be mixed. But there are lots of other studies — including randomized, double blind studies — that reveal creatine and caffeine will work together just fine.
In the end, you shouldn’t be concerned about that one study. Instead, look to the other studies that say there’s nothing wrong about combining them. Olliver says he does not believe caffeine inhibits creatine absorption, leading to a concerning misconception in the industry today.
The myth of creatine interfering with caffeine has spread widely because people tend to cling to research as gold. But one small study among many shouldn’t be enough to sway you one way or the other. You can take creatine any time of day — as it doesn’t have acute effects like caffeine does. As such, you don’t have to take it pre-workout if you are concerned about that. But you can do it without worries!